Launched in 1897, The House was Britain's first modern home decoration magazine. Its founder, John Benn, was a trade paper magnate whose career had been marked by a string of successes. The House collapsed after just five years. This article seeks to explain The House's failure. The House flopped, at least in part, because its editors adhered too closely to the ideas of design reform. The fixed principles of correct taste advocated in its pages, along with the magazine's persistent criticism of consumers, did little to win The House loyal subscribers. By the 1890s, house decoration was increasingly understood as an expression of individuality, not as a matter of following rules. By comparing The House's demise with the contemporaneous success of the 'lady art advisers' of the women's press - whose columns endorsed self-expression over correctness - this article suggests that the cause of design reform ultimately foundered on the shoals of the consumer.
- Benn, John
- Design reform movement
- Home decoration
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts